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View Full Version : That Ideal "Ukulele" Sound?



UkieOkie
10-26-2015, 04:31 PM
Ok friends, I have a proposal. Participate if you wish.

So, from you experienced uke players, what is that real sound that you personally are looking for in your ukes? I understand that the desireable sound people are looking for is widely variable, so I thought we could try this.


Please go to http://www.theukulelesite.com and find an example of what you like and describe it and post the link, and then also find an example of one that you don't like and explain why. Since HMS has seen fit to post wonderful videos of so many instruments, we can have a fairly decent discussion and qualify what people are saying.

What have you to say UU?

Trevor

Brad Bordessa
10-26-2015, 05:15 PM
This is highly subjective, as you mention and I'm not going to answer at all in the way you asked.

I've been playing for 10 years and I think I'm at a point (maybe I'm delusional) where I can say that I get a sound I'm sort of happy with from most decent 'ukuleles. Would I like the sound of my Moore Bettah better than a KoAloha? Probably, but it's what I'm used to. More importantly (I think) is that I've come to internalize some of the "touch" that I want to hear from my MUSIC. Not just the uke. This means that I'm taking a musical fingerprint with me to every new instrument I touch and not just asking the uke to do all the speaking. It seems like this becomes more the case the more you play.

You get to a certain point with instrument quality that they all sound "good." Just different flavors of good. Give a musician a week with any of those flavors and he or she is going to learn how to make it sound pretty much like they want to hear it. THAT would be an interesting tone test. Give the same artist a week to play only one instrument and then record a sound clip. Then another week for another instrument and another sound clip. Etc. I would guess (I could be very wrong) that the audible differences between the instruments would shrink by a lot - as opposed to the artist having zero time to get to know the instrument between sound bites.

I always come back to: I've heard James Hill play some amazing stuff on crappy ukes. He could make a shoelace on a coffee can sound good.

UkieOkie
10-26-2015, 05:40 PM
This is highly subjective, as you mention and I'm not going to answer at all in the way you asked.

I've been playing for 10 years and I think I'm at a point (maybe I'm delusional) where I can say that I get a sound I'm sort of happy with from most decent 'ukuleles. Would I like the sound of my Moore Bettah better than a KoAloha? Probably, but it's what I'm used to. More importantly (I think) is that I've come to internalize some of the "touch" that I want to hear from my MUSIC. Not just the uke. This means that I'm taking a musical fingerprint with me to every new instrument I touch and not just asking the uke to do all the speaking. It seems like this becomes more the case the more you play.

You get to a certain point with instrument quality that they all sound "good." Just different flavors of good. Give a musician a week with any of those flavors and he or she is going to learn how to make it sound pretty much like they want to hear it. THAT would be an interesting tone test. Give the same artist a week to play only one instrument and then record a sound clip. Then another week for another instrument and another sound clip. Etc. I would guess (I could be very wrong) that the audible differences between the instruments would shrink by a lot - as opposed to the artist having zero time to get to know the instrument between sound bites.

I always come back to: I've heard James Hill play some amazing stuff on crappy ukes. He could make a shoelace on a coffee can sound good.

Wow man, that's some deep business. Thank you for the reply and the insights.(even if you didn't follow the outline :-)

I am going to post a couple of links like I mentioned in a moment of two similarly priced ukes. There aren't that many ukulele players around here, so I don't get to actually hear what others like much. I'm curious what other's ears like.

Thanks again for the reply.

Nickie
10-26-2015, 05:43 PM
http://www.theukulelesite.com/pepe-romero-14-fret-spruce-rosewood.html

This one sounded the most pleasing to my ear. I didn't find one that I didn't like.
Fun thread!

UkieOkie
10-26-2015, 05:49 PM
http://www.theukulelesite.com/pepe-romero-14-fret-spruce-rosewood.html

This one sounded the most pleasing to my ear. I didn't find one that I didn't like.
Fun thread!

Wow, good choice. Thanks for participating.

Inksplosive AL
10-26-2015, 06:21 PM
Funny the lowest priced soprano sounds just fine to me eh? Out of the 12+ ukuleles I own including a Koahola concert my SEM gets the most playtime out of them all.


https://vimeo.com/116963862

Doc_J
10-26-2015, 06:25 PM
I don't find the complete ukulele sound in one uke. Different ukes sound better for different songs.

I like warm, deep tone from linear tuning to bright sparkly tone in reentrant tuning (and everything in between).

Here's two of my favorite HMS ukes:
https://vimeo.com/99918868
https://vimeo.com/134187859

Inksplosive AL
10-26-2015, 06:28 PM
I had to go find this video here. This guy makes a smiley novelty ukulele sound good eh?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lpRPF04rr4

UkieOkie
10-26-2015, 06:35 PM
Ok, for some reason the site has been freezing up for me when I try to post. I hope it works this time.

So, I like ukes to have at least some of that soprano bark. For that reason, I like my tenor to be pretty bright so that they can bark through that deeper tone. I also like some sustain back there. I like the sound of this uke. Its not the best I've heard, but it has what I like.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/kala/kala-ka-srt-ctg-e.html

This second one is an example of what I am not looking for, ie. its muddy on the strum and lacks clear sustain.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-smht-solid-mahogany-tenor.html

koktung
10-26-2015, 06:41 PM
I particularly like Pepe Romero Grand Reserve Tenor.
I always look for the balance of the tone(not too loud or soft) of the uke and this is something that i love to play in the future.
I used to play Koaloha , it is too loud for me...haha (maybe i should not strum that hard!)

Thanks for sharing all the wonderful uke sound here.

Aloha and happy strumming!

UkieOkie
10-26-2015, 06:46 PM
I don't find the complete ukulele sound in one uke. Different ukes sound better for different songs.

I like warm, deep tone from linear tuning to bright sparkly tone in reentrant tuning (and everything in between).

Here's two of my favorite HMS ukes:
https://vimeo.com/99918868
https://vimeo.com/134187859


That Moore is fantastic. The Toda has a beautiful sound, but sounded more like a nice guitar. I really don't have much of an ear. Thanks to all for participating. This is really fun, getting to hear what you all like.

UkerDanno
10-27-2015, 04:32 AM
If I had that kind of money to spend on a uke, I'd love to have this...
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/concert/collings-concert-uc3k-sb-1459.html

and this is about as far from what I like as you can get, #1 because it's a baritone (I don't even consider baritones ukuleles)...
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/pono/pono-mgb-mango-baritone-986.html

UkieOkie
10-27-2015, 04:50 AM
If I had that kind of money to spend on a uke, I'd love to have this...
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/concert/collings-concert-uc3k-sb-1459.html



That Collings sounds fantastic to my ear. Good choice.

70sSanO
10-27-2015, 05:10 AM
Interesting thread. And it is always fun to listen to HMS demos, they are the best. Probably at the end of this the answer to the ideal ukulele sound will be all of them.

On another note, what is more impressive is how the people on UU embrace the ukulele regardless of the name on the headstock or the numbers on the price tag. Case in point, that Kala soprano does sound really good. Of course, talent does bring out the best in any instrument. Never-the-less, I really enjoyed it, and I'm not a soprano person.

Now if your were to stroll over to an acoustic guitar forum and post the same question and someone posted the least expensive instrument as the ideal sound, that person would probably have their computer taken away from him/her, run out of town, and banned for life from the forum. And at the very least, they would most likely be teased from that day forward.

This is something we should all cherish.

John

wayfarer75
10-27-2015, 05:50 AM
I don't have an "ideal" sound for a uke, so I'll go through what I have in my current ukes and what I might look for in the future. I'm with Doc J, my ukes play different songs.


Funny the lowest priced soprano sounds just fine to me eh? Out of the 12+ ukuleles I own including a Koahola concert my SEM gets the most playtime out of them all.


https://vimeo.com/116963862
I have a Kala KA-S. Very good for the money. Better strummed than picked, though. That's a good representation of the sound. That's where I began, and its lack of a good tone for picking led me to search for another uke.

After the Kala, I knew I wanted a good uke for picking, and got one. I wound up with a Kelii concert, and it's currently strung low G. A very sonorous uke, with almost too much sustain (can you imagine). It's also my largest, with a slightly longer scale than most concerts (15.5 inches). I call it my poor man's Ohta-San, but this I'iwi sounds more similar, probably due to the strings: https://vimeo.com/95944756

I then got a Kamaka pineapple, which has a deeper voice than the Kala, and it just sounds more "Hawaiian"--it's so hard to describe. More than any other ukulele I own, it takes me to the land of aloha. It's hard to find a good sound clip from HMS because they're all with the stock strings. Mine has Living Waters right now, giving it more volume and less of the staccato the Kamaka strings have. Here's a decent clip of one: https://vimeo.com/95555488

My most recent uke is a Barron River concert. It has a very classic uke sound, with a good punch but more sustain than the Kamaka, ringing out on the higher frets like the Kelii. It's along the lines of this Collings: https://vimeo.com/123984220

What I would like is maybe someday a uke with a very deep guitarish voice. A tenor or a baritone, like these: https://vimeo.com/59389068 or https://vimeo.com/132019315
Or maybe a uke with a good range of low to high like this: https://vimeo.com/103327027 (except that sucker cost $10K new)

UkieOkie
10-27-2015, 06:34 AM
Thank you Laura. Those were great examples.

Peace Train
10-30-2015, 01:21 AM
The rich, balanced tones of this Koa Works tenor does it for me. https://vimeo.com/125407846

Also, anything Kim Hussey plays...which reinforces Hippie Guy's point, that it's what the player brings to the instrument as much as, if not more than, the instrument itself.

ukuleleden
10-30-2015, 01:55 AM
My newest acquisition that arrived just recently is quickly proving to be my favorite sound and configuration. The big surprise is the price of entry is far below in other instruments in this design that arrived with perfect action and intonation which I am even now more excited to pursue. I am speaking of the long neck soprano design, and the one I just received and am currently playing is the Kala SSLNG Solid Spruce top that wonderfully projects with the laminate mahogany back and sides. I now have my sights set on other Long neck sopranos too. The under $100 Kala all laminate SLNG is also a screaming deal, and after my daughter tried and liked the feel of my new SSLNG, I decided to order her the SLNG to have for herself (and so she doesn't abscond with mine). :o

SteveZ
10-30-2015, 02:56 AM
When I find the ideal car, boat, meal, destination, etc., then I may be able to answer this. No word in the English language is more subjective than "ideal," so it's a moving trget at best.

HG in Post #2 said it well. Any instrument in the hands of a good musician can be made to sound fine. Sound samples at a commercial site must be taken for what they are: staged situations designed to show the product in as good a light as possible. The instrument that has had a professional-performance set-up, climate-adjusted, probably restrung, tuned perfectly and miked correctly is going to sound fabulous, compared to what may arrive to the average consumer. I've gotten supposedly set-up instruments from several vendors, and have always spent time taking the instrument from generic (usually high action) set-up to a more responsive performance set-up. Rarely have the factory strings remained longer than a week or so.

Don't forget the tuning. For the GCEA fans, a uke which sounds less than "ideal" at high-G may sound spectacular with low-G and vice versa.

It's nice to seek the "ideal," but the search may be like chasing the Golden Fleece.

Tootler
10-30-2015, 02:57 AM
How you tune it will also affect the sound you get. The soprano bark is accentuated by tuning up to ADF#B. OTOH, tuning a tenor down to DGBE will give you a more mellow sound, regardless of what it sounde like in GCEA. Linear GCEA is a kind of half way house in that respect, IMO.

bonesigh
10-30-2015, 10:05 AM
I haven't read the rest of the thread as this answer is already the best IMO. Great answer! (:

This is highly subjective, as you mention and I'm not going to answer at all in the way you asked.

I've been playing for 10 years and I think I'm at a point (maybe I'm delusional) where I can say that I get a sound I'm sort of happy with from most decent 'ukuleles. Would I like the sound of my Moore Bettah better than a KoAloha? Probably, but it's what I'm used to. More importantly (I think) is that I've come to internalize some of the "touch" that I want to hear from my MUSIC. Not just the uke. This means that I'm taking a musical fingerprint with me to every new instrument I touch and not just asking the uke to do all the speaking. It seems like this becomes more the case the more you play.

You get to a certain point with instrument quality that they all sound "good." Just different flavors of good. Give a musician a week with any of those flavors and he or she is going to learn how to make it sound pretty much like they want to hear it. THAT would be an interesting tone test. Give the same artist a week to play only one instrument and then record a sound clip. Then another week for another instrument and another sound clip. Etc. I would guess (I could be very wrong) that the audible differences between the instruments would shrink by a lot - as opposed to the artist having zero time to get to know the instrument between sound bites.

I always come back to: I've heard James Hill play some amazing stuff on crappy ukes. He could make a shoelace on a coffee can sound good.